Celebrating Lauren Hutton


Lauren Hutton moved to New York by accident. “I had wanted to paint and I decided that I was never going to be able to be an artist like the artists I admired because I was working all the time,” the legendary model who collaborated with the likes of Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton over the years once said. “So, I just decided to take off and go to Africa.” Hutton got stuck in the Big Apple on the way, realizing that getting from the then-only departure hub to Tangier would take more than the 0 with which she left home. It was the first of many bold, adventure-driven moves that would change her life—a life and career that has had an indelible impact on the industry that few other models have.

The incredible thing about Hutton’s career is that it relies so much on bravery and an honest, candid defiance of certain social norms. Hutton grew up first in relative affluence in Charleston, South Carolina, and landed in a swamp in Florida when her mother’s new husband swindled all their money. She later wound up at what is now Tulane University, and dropped out—heading for Africa by way of New York—only to begin modeling largely by chance. Early in her career, Hutton turned up for a call at Christian Dior for models after her friend found an ad in a newspaper and convinced her she could show up and lie about her lack of experience. It was an age where clients would hire girls with or without agencies and models would do their own hair and makeup. It didn’t matter that she was considered too short, or that her gap tooth—which later became her signature—was named a flaw.

In the years following, Hutton changed the industry dramatically. In a move that’s significance can’t be understated, she demanded the first ever-exclusive contract at the age of 31 from Revlon in 1974. Up until that time, models were paid by the hour—usually . When Hutton stepped up, the industry standard changed almost overnight. After signing the million-dollar contract with Revlon, the beauty company leaked the information for publicity and very quickly, modeling rates very went from hourly to daily—and up to ,500 for one day. Within a year there were several other beauty contracts.

The films and other jobs that came along later—American Gigolo, The Gambler, and more—underscored her ingenuity. She wrestled with an alligator for Newton, leapt over snakes for Avedon, and appeared on the covers of major fashion glossies. In perhaps her most intrepid move, Hutton returned to the industry at age 47, seven years after being fired by Revlon who told her women her age didn’t buy makeup.

As when she was just a teenager, Hutton didn’t let conventions or sexist expectations stop her. Her friend Steven Meisel began shooting her, and she explored other business ventures, developing her own makeup line for women over 40 and amplifying her own presence in the industry. In September 2016, Hutton walked the runway in an American Gigolo-inspired trench for Bottega Veneta’s 50th anniversary Spring/Summer 2017 show alongside Gigi Hadid. At 74, she became one of the faces of Calvin Klein Underwear. There appears to be no slowing down for Hutton—and why should there be?


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